The White House on Wednesday defended the decision to apply catch and release protocols to undocumented Haitian migrants entering the United States, describing the practice as an “alternative to detention.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki used the updated description when asked by reporters asked why migrants from Haiti were being released into the country and not sent back immediately on expulsion fights to their home country.
“Individuals who are not immediately removed are either placed in an alternative to detention or transported to an ICE facility,” Psaki replied.
She ignored concerns voiced by a reporter the practice would only encourage more Haitians to cross the Southern border into the country.
Over 15,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, gathered in a makeshift camp under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas in the last week.
Psaki said that the Department of Homeland Security was continuing to expel some migrants using the Title 42 authorities developed by former President Donald Trump to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
But she admitted there were many Haitian migrants who “cannot be expelled” and would be sent to “alternative to detention.” She also noted that there might not be flights available for DHS to send the migrants home.
“If there isn’t a flight ready yet, those individuals may be placed in alternatives to detention,” she said.
Catch-and-release is the practice of federal authorities apprehending migrants crossing the porous border, taking their information, before releasing them into the country with a notice to return for an asylum hearing.Randy Clark
Former President Donald Trump ended catch and release by creating his “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants claiming asylum, slowing the number of migrants crossing into the United States.
President Joe Biden ended the policy when he took office, describing it as “inhumane.”
After days of stalling, the Department of Homeland Security finally released numbers late Wednesday about the number of migrants processed at the border.
Of the over 15,000 that gathered at camp, 1,401 have been sent back to Haiti, 3,206 have been moved out of the Del Rio sector, and fewer than 5,000 remain in the camp near the bridge.